on 30 November 2000
AMERICA have long been maligned: CROSBY, STILLS & NASH copyists; light-weight EAGLES. Soft Rock meanderers. A Rolling Stone compendium was dismissive enough to give their whole studio album catolgue 1* (excluding their greatest hits), implying that apart from the radio friendly hits they have nothing further to offer. This throwaway review could not be further from the truth.
AMERICA, when they hit the mark, create a back-porch sensibility which is both timeless and refreshing. Probably the best example of this is their debut album AMERICA which doesn't suffer from the sometimes treacley over production of the George Martin produced follow ups.
The original pressing apparently didn't feature the transatlantic hit "A Horse With No Name". It was only following the conclusion of the album that Dewey Bunnell entered the Morgan Studios in London to record this their most famous song, and which was then added to future pressings.
At the time of its release with its three way harmonies, the CS&N comparisons were expected and yet it is only "Children" with its hippie idealism that shares any real comparison. The remainder fit more squarely within the West Coast COUNTRY ROCK mould of JACKSON BROWNE and the EAGLES and yet pre-date both of these artist's debut albums by 1 year. Not bad for a trio of teenagers straight out of college in the UK (Bushey, Watford).
The album features many highlights and includes Gerry Beckley's plaintive piano led ballad "I Need You", Dewey's affecting "Three Roses" with its superb interwined acoustic guitar playing, the ambitious "Sandman", and Dan Peek's emotive "Never Found The Time".
At a time when Country Rock is currently in vogue (Alt. Country/Americana/No Depression - call it what you will) and is receiving critical acclaim from all quarters, it is worth remembering that AMERICA's debut is not too far removed from today's contempories. So dismiss what the critics have to say and buy this forgotten gem.
JS - Kings Langley, UK
on 15 August 2009
This is the first America album I ever heard and it remains my favourite album from America and one of my favourite albums of all time.
There is a rawness in the tracks that has largely dissappeared from later albums and I have often wished they had kept their later production less sugary and more like this, their debut album.
The CD description mentions "Horse with no name", probably their best known song, but it is NOT on this album (nor do I miss it here, though I love the song). America has a very varied mix of music here and my real favourite is "Donkey Jaw", with some superb acoustic guitar, building the song piece by piece. "Pigeon Song", also a favourite - also shows the eclectic mix of songs on the album and I miss that spirit in later offerings.
Give "America" a try. You will be very surprised by the great music on the album and maybe a bit dissappointed, like me, that their later albums never quite surpassed the genius of this one.
Some albums just sound good, however many times they are played. Some are just part of the growing up experience. Here is one of those albums - part of my musical heritage. The album oozes class and warmth. It's full of period pieces with attitude, close harmonies and instantly hummable choruses and hooks. In the folk rock canon this album has undeniable beauty and as a first album compares with and betters most in its genre.
Songs of love, songs of desire. America could at times be obtuse with their lyrics, never more so than on the hit single Horse with No Name. This track was excluded from the vinyl album I first bought but has subsequently been restored and the album is more representative of the group with it included. It's just one of those albums that sits well with the world from which it comes. Individually I Need You is one of the most romantic songs. This album made me sit up to close harmony groups like The Eagles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young etc. It also made America enter into my consciousness as one of my favourite bands
on 21 November 2010
To my mind there are some debut albums which are of the highest standard, for example:
1965 Mr Tambourine Man. The Byrds.
1968 Neil Young. Neil Young.
1969 Chicago Transit Authority. Chicago Transit Authority.
1970 Air Conditioning. Curved Air.
1975 Liberation Suite. Liberation Suite.
1976 Boston. Boston.
1976 Oxygene. Jean Michel Jarre.
1977 Magic Fly. Space.
And 1971 America. America.
(1972 release added the No 1 hit single A Horse With No Name, which is included here).
Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek were in their late teens/early twenties when they wrote and recorded this album, which also includes the well known songs Sandman and I Need You.
The remainder are all fantastic, even the black humour of Pigeon Song.
It's the outstanding acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies that make this the landmark album which I don't think they would ever better.
The follow up Homecoming is not far behind in quality, especially Ventura Highway.
Having said that be warned thereafter that overproduction blunted the band's distinctive sound and opened the door to some over sentinmental songs.
No risk of that on this bombshell of a recording, recommended for any desert island list!
on 27 February 2011
I bought this album when it was first released on vinyl. It then didn't have the superb, iconic hit single - Horse With No Name - included. It's a soft, feel good album with some great accoustic guitar work. Love the 12 string and the vocal harmonies. Every track's a winner.